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Credit crunch provides boom time for rogues

Rogue plumbers, builders, and a host of other tradesmen are set to make a killing in the current economic climate.


According to the results of a YouGov survey, commissioned by the National Federation of Builders, over half (57 per cent) of Britons would risk hiring a cowboy to carry out work on their home as they struggle to make ends meet.


Almost two thirds (61 per cent) blamed rising costs of food, fuel and finance for making a VAT-free cash-in-hand deal more appealing.


Federation chief executive Julia Evans said: “With mounting energy bills, food prices and mortgage payments, it is no wonder that consumers are more tempted than ever by a tax-free deal on their building work. As long as the temptation is there, people will be willing to take a risk despite all the warnings.”

“But using a cowboy can turn your home improvement dreams to ruin, with many consumers having to pay twice in order to clean up the mess left behind.” 


The findings, based on the responses of 2,000 adults, have led to fresh calls on the Treasury to reduce the VAT rate on domestic repair and improvement work from 17.5 per cent to 5 per cent. This, says the NFB, would help to level the playing the field between the cowboys and bona fide [tradesmen] and reduce the cash-in-hand temptation.

She added: “Ultimately it’s high-time the government reforms the punitive VAT system which allows illegal businesses to flourish at the expense of reputable tax payers.


Recent studies in France and the Netherlands have shown that cutting VAT reduced rogue trader activity, the Federation said. They were also revenue neutral for the Treasury, as the measures encouraged a greater number of companies operating in the black economy to start paying tax.